Today’s the 4th of July. I’m sitting on the patio thinking about where I’d like to be. First thing that popped into my head was the Grand Canyon. Walking up to the Canyon’s lip and staring out onto the vast expanse always takes my breath away (Wonder where your breath goes?)
Ever taken a 1000 mile Road Trip with a 4 year old? We did! Just finished driving from DFW to Sedona to The Grand Canyon and back again with our 4 1/2 year old grandson. Because he was so young (and we were so old) we took three days and two nights getting there and the same amount of time returning.
More photos available at: Click Here
Unlike past travel blogs I wrote this trip report in a Timeline or Diary format. So read on to take a long ride
2017-04-24 Started packing this morning. Now at Dr. Smith’s office – Dermatologist. Good News week – No skin cancers!
2017-04-25 Starting Paxton’s great adventure in Southlake. Today we travel to Amarillo
Stopped for a break at River Bend Nature Center Wichita Falls. They had a interesting butterfly exhibit as well as some live native creatures and a children’s playground. Next we dined at an almost deserted Pizza Hut because it was close to the Nature Center. Almost deserted – we were the only customers.
Damm! 5 miles out of Wichita Falls the right front tire blew out on the MDX. Then I discovered many new vehicles do not have a spare. After that I discovered we had let the road side assistance lapse last month. After that I discovered my only option was to have the car towed into a tire dealer; No coming out to me. After that I discovered there are no Michelin tires for our SUV in Wichita Falls.
2 hours later. Leaving the tire store with a brand spanking new Goodyear tire on my right front.
Tire fixed and drove to Amarillo without incident. Met Mike and Jackie for dinner and then we all took Paxson to the local amusement park. He loved it! We overnighted in a Staybridge Inn. Seems to be fairly new and nice. Would stay here again.
2017-04-26: Amarillo to Albuquerque. Lunch at Oak Creek Cafe, then the Zoo, then back to hotel for a quick swim. Dinner at El Pinto which is a huge Mexican Restaurant on the far North side of town in a run down neighborhood. It was probably in the country when they opened in 62 if I remember right.
2017-04-27: Up early today and driving from Albuquerque to Sedona.
Now in Holbrook Az. having lunch at Tom & Suzies Diner. Lunch was good.
Arrived in Sedona at 2:30PM MST. That’s a 7.5 hour trip from Albuquerque. Condo is great. Now relaxing.
Mike and Sara arrived at 6PM. Rested a bit and dined at Hidaway House, an older Italian restaurant with great views of the mountains.
2017-04-28: Up at 6:30AM. The boys are very rambunctious this morning. I guess they are happy to be together again but I feel sorry for the people below us.
Breakfast at Wildflower Bread Company. Just as good as I remember.
Then we took the Pink Jeep Tour with the boys up into the hills where only a jeep driver could take us. I was surprised the boys loved the bumpy wild ride. We made two stops for photo ops. Austin fell asleep on the way back to town after the 2nd stop. How can he sleep through this?
Lunch at Oaxaca . Maybe the 4th or 5th time Gwen and I have been there. I’m sure there are better Hispanic restaurants in the area but the place seems like home to us so we always go back.
After that we took the boys swimming. Everything went well until Pax tripped while running to catch Mommy and Austin and spreadeagled on the rocks. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over. Fell so sorry for him.
Put the boys down for a nap. They slept 2 hours and we woke them up so they would sleep tonight.
We dined at Elote with the boys. Had to wait an hour for a table which was not unusual at that restaurant. They don’t take reservations and there is always a waiting list. Easily the best restaurant in Sedona.
2017-04-29 Up at 6 this morning. Sunny and 35 degrees.
Everyone else is visiting Jerome today. I’m staying at the condo and catching up on email and Master Gardener Stuff. Made a Workflow today which takes Markdown from the input and sends a monthly Technology Group report to Dr. Church.
Pizza place down the street for lunch.
Dinner at the Condo
2017-04-30: Today we are headed out to the Grand Canyon hiking. By we I mean Sara, Mike, & I. Gwen and the boys are driving up later. We had a long, hard day hiking the Canyon on the Kaibab Trail.
Dinner at El Tovar.
2017-05-01: Up at 6. I was up multiple times with leg cramps last night. We are starting the trip home today. Tonight we stop at Albuquerque.
We had an uneventful drive to Albuquerque today. There are not many dining options between Flagstaff and Albuquerque. Today we had a late lunch at Applebee’s in Gallup. At home I would not eat at an Applebee’s but on I40 in the middle of nowhere its a good option.
Dinner tonight in Albuquerque was at Trombino’s Bistro Italiano, exceptional. Definitely a place to dine next time we are in Albuquerque.
2017-05-02: Paxson and Gwen visit the zoo and the aquarium before leaving Albuquerque. This time Alex the Lion is out so the visit was a success. Drive to Amarillo. Dinner with Mike and Jackie at Embers located in the old David’s Steaks location.
2017-04-03: Breakfast at the Bagel Place before and uneventful drive to Southlake to deliver Paxson to the other grandparents. All’s well that ends well
This year we did a Texas Rangers Spring Training trip – March 15-22. (Click for more photos)
We flew to Phoenix Friday and ate lunch at Four Peaks Brewery in Scottsdale. I ordered the walleye. It was delicious. The beer was good as well. Then we drove to Sedona our headquarters for the trip. Our lodgings were the Wyndham Sedona. We have a timeshare with Wyndham which allow us to book any of their locations. The lodgings are generally top-notch. They are great for people like us who need a kitchen when we travel. The main downside to Wyndham is they encourage you to attend an ‘information” session which is really a sales pitch to buy shares in the condo or buy more shares in my case. I always say no I am not attending a session. For dinner we walked across the street, stocked up at Safeway, and ate in the condo.
On Saturday we drove back to Phoenix/Surprise and took in the Rangers/Dodgers Spring training game. We stopped at New York Bagels in Sedona on the way for a bagel breakfast.
Before the game we dined at Amuse Bouche (rated as the Number 1 restaurant in Surprise by Trip Advisor). I would call the food casual French. It’s a nondescript place in a strip shopping center. Most of Surprise is nondescript. However the food was great and I believe it is probably the best restaurant in town.
The weather was perfect for the game: high 80s, not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze. We sat behind the Ranger dugout on the 4th row. Spring training games are really different. They split the roster and were playing two games so we saw a mix of regulars and minor leaguers’. The regulars play around half the game and then they walk off to the club house in center field. Everything is really laid back and relaxed. The Rangers beat the Dodgers 4-0 in a 2.5 hour game. That was another difference, the game zipped along at a rapid pace.
The lady sitting next to us was interesting to say the least. She was in her 70s. She took forever to say anything. Not that she talked slow, but she said it over and over again and twisted it a little bit each time she said it. She finally shared she was a Valley Girl in the 60s. Probably too much LSD and speed.
After the game we dined at our favorite restaurant from our last Phoenix visit –
Beckett’s Table. We arrived an hour before our reservation because the game was much faster than we thought. We sat on the patio and were the first diners seated in Beckett’s new patio area. The tables and seats were constructed from used railroad ties and other recyclable material. The food was as good as we remembered. We will definitely dine there again.
Sunday was our first full day in Sedona. We ate breakfast at the Coffee Pot. I was surprised. The outside appearance gives the impression that it is a greasy spoon. However, the parking lot was overflowing so we gave it a try. The ambiance inside was very homey and western. The food was really good also. Highly recommend it.
We spent Sunday hiking the West Fork Trail. The trail is rated one of the 10 best in the U.S. It follows a creek into Oak Creek Canyon for 3.5
miles crossing the creek 13 times. The canyon walls tower around 2000 feet above the base of the canyon. The creek crossings are normally easy. However the previous week Sedona received 14 inches of snow followed by a few days of warm weather. This made the crossings very interesting. I discovered Gwen has exceptional balance as she scampered across tiny logs fallen across the stream while I kept stumbling off and getting soaked. We made it to crossing 10 when after 2.5 hours we decided to turn around.
Sunday dinner was at the Golden Goose. It was mediocre dinner. I was disappointed as it had high ratings.
On Monday morning we decided to give the Golden Goose a second try for breakfast because it was in walking distance and were rewarded by a delicious breakfast. Breakfast was much better than dinner.
After breakfast we climbed into the rental car and drove up to Jerome, an old copper mining town on the built on the side of a hill. We visited the Jerome State Historical Park and then drove though town. We tried a restaurant called Grapes for lunch and were pleasantly surprised. It is THE place to eat in Jerome
Next we drove through Clarksdale and visited the Tuzigoot National Monument. It is a 110 dwelling pueblo ruin dating from the 1300s. Interesting, and if you are over 60 and have a National Park Senior Citizen pass ($10 for your lifetime) you get in free.
Monday night we tried Maria’s Mexican. It turned out to be mediocre. Not doing too well for dinners in Sedona.
On Tuesday we traveled to the Grand Canyon. We picked up breakfast at McDonald’s and hit the road. The drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is scenic. The first part of the trip is the drive through and out of Oak Creek Canyon. Then through Flagstaff and the National Forest to the Canyon. We parked at the El Tovar. We walked the rim in that area until lunch. We ate at the Arizona Room. The meal was mediocre (I have been using that word a lot but we were very unlucky on our choice of restaurants this trip in some cases). Then we drove to the Desert View entrance on the East side of the park stopping to view the canyon and walk several times.
Back in Sedona we dined at the Silver Saddle in uptown Sedona. The meal was delicious. Recommend it also. I had steak and Gwen I am sure had some sort chicken dish.
On Wednesday we stayed close to Sedona. We alternated between hiking, relaxing in the Wyndham, and eating. Today’s restaurants and results were:
- Breakfast: Golden Goose
- Lunch: Wildflower Bread Company – very good, will remind you of Panera’s except the food is better.
- Dinner: Elote. The restaurant opens at 5:00PM. We arrived at 5:15 PM and had to wait 45 minutes. Elote was worth the wait. They serve Mexican and it is great. Definitely the find of the trip. I’d put it in the same class as a Stephen Piles restaurant. I had butternut squash soup and green chile tamales. Gwen had guacamole and jicama salad.
Thursday was not the best vacation day in Sedona/Phoenix. The day started out fine. We ate breakfast at the Wildflower Bakery which was the best breakfast we had on the trip. Actually, the bagel shop was pretty darn good also.
Then we checked out of the Wyndham and drove to Phoenix. So far so good.
We had the day to spend in Phoenix and Gwen wanted to visit the Queen Creek Olive Farm. The only problem was it wasn’t really in Phoenix. It was on the far Southeast side about 60 miles from our hotel which was close to Surprise stadium on the far Northwest side. Other than the 1.5 hour drive each way through the city the farm was nice and we had a good lunch.
We watched the Ranger/Angels preseason game Thursday night. Rangers prevailed in the bottom of the ninth.
Our hotel was a Marriott Residence Inn at 17N and Happy Valley. It was new and really first-rate.
We flew home Friday and that’s the end of the story.